School-wide displays can help to create the overall feeling of inclusiveness in a school. Check out these bulletin board ideas that expose kids to world languages encourage global thinking!
At the beginning of the year, our school has a “Meet the Teacher” afternoon where students and their families can come and wander around the school. In the cafeteria, we have tables set up for various clubs, PTO, and enrichment opportunities. I was trying to think of a way to attract more of our diverse population to volunteer with our International Club, and so I created the sign:
“Can you say FRIEND
in another language?”
Both students and their parents stopped by my table to write down how they say friend in their language, or a language they learned. While they were there, I told them about our International Club and asked them to leave their email if they were interested in helping out. The response was tremendous! Close to 200 families left their emails, and we collected the word “friend” in about 25 languages!
The following week I emailed my now huge list of potential volunteers and had them meet me at school to create our hallway display. Moms from literally all corners of the globe- many with little to no English- happily volunteered to cut out the letters on our old die cutter and paste them onto paper to assemble the display. It was incredible to expand our PTO volunteers and include such a diverse group of women, many who hadn’t volunteered before but who now felt comfortable and welcome and would be back for future events.
Collecting how to say “peace” (or “friend” or “love” or “hero” or any word you choose!) in different world languages can either be done as a homework assignment for older kids or can happen as a result of asking a diverse student population how they say peace in their native language. Either way, the final display can be a reminder that the schools is accepting of students regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or native language.
As kids walk down the hallway, you will find them trying to pronounce the different words for peace and even trying out their new vocabulary with native speakers. One great memory was minutes after hanging our “peace” display, a shy child smiled and pointed at the Urdu sign and said, “That one is mine! I say it like that!”
More Bulletin Board Ideas for Global Awareness and Multicultural Inclusiveness
Peace in the languages represented in your community:
We have a different theme for our elementary school each year, so one year it happened to be super heroes!
A similar display could be done with cut out hearts, having the kids write down how to say love in another language:
We have also done kids’ hands, where they draw pictures to symbolize what is important in their family and home culture:
Our Diversity Quilts have been very successful in the past (see our whole post about it here with tons of other pictures!). Kids create a quilt square all about their family: what they celebrate, what is important to them, their values, symbols that represent them. It is always fascinating to see what the kids come up with!
Another idea is to ask the students to ask their friends and family to send them a postcard. We told the kids we wanted to have as many countries represented as we could, and we were absolutely delighted at the amazing outpouring of support for the project, literally from all corners of the Earth (and all 7 continents!)
Most often, our bulletin board ideas try to show our students that we love them and appreciate their cultural differences. This last one I had to include, because even though it wasn’t a reflection of our student demographics, it still encouraged kids to learn about other cultures- this time through books. I love when we do “Map the Settings” outside the library. Kids are invited to pin titles of books on the world map wherever the setting may be. In this picture, I used an overhead projector to trace the continents, but other years we have just used a laminated world map. I love that kids notice that the majority of books are based in the US- and they challenge themselves to try to find books set in other places less represented. Another fun aspect of this map was that students often had to go to the atlas to look up the exact location of their setting (Japan for example) to see where it would be on this borderless map :).
This idea was featured in our new book Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners. To read more about how your school can empower and support your teachers in globalizing their curriculum, check out my book, written with acclaimed author Homa S Tavangar (of Growing Up Global). It is packed with hundreds of ideas you can implement today, from educational technology that connects you to teachers and kids from around the world, global learning in every academic subject area (including Common Core aligned lessons), to professional development opportunities, dozens of service learning examples, and a multicultural reading list with over 300 titles. If you’re interested in Global and Multicultural Education, this is the book for you.